Being empowering is something I’ve always wanted – to empower people around me to be the best they can be. Over the years, I have had different appreciation of what empowerment means, what it looks like, what it takes.
For most of my life, I experience empowerment to be “telling someone what to do and giving the person space to do it”. First and foremost, I must have the solution to whatever the person is dealing with. Then I posture myself in a way that allows me to tell/advice the person how to do it. Finally, allowing the person to actually act on my wisdom/suggestion/advice without me trying to do everything myself. This particular view of empowerment leaves me feeling that I have to be Miss Know-it-all and Solve-it-all.
This form of empowerment, at some level, propels me to seek for every solution possible, within the realm of what I know. I became pretty good with solving problems. However, every now and then (which is quite often actually), I hit a wall. I draw a blank. I don’t know what to do, don’t know how to respond to a problem. I get totally stressed out about not knowing what the next step should be. If I didn’t know, how could I empower others??????
Since I took on being a coach in a leadership training program last year, I truly begin to experience empowerment in a new way. There is no right or wrong way to empowerment per se. Yet the way I have experienced it in the past year or so have left me with a whole new sense of freedom to be with people the way they are and the way they are not; with a brand new perspective to how great people can be when real empowerment – not domination – is present.
As a coach I saw for myself a few things that, when distinguished, opened up a whole new world for me:
1. My previous way of being empowerment was coming from my fear of being insecure and inadequate. If I didn’t have answers, what value do I bring to this world? A long-time, entrenched fear that I need to prove I am good enough at every chance I get or I am nothing.
2. I was trying to fix and change things, to become some way I want it to be. If it wasn’t the way I think it should be, any other way would render me pretty useless wouldn’t it?
3. Resistance, resistance. I resist the world the way IT IS NOT as it did not fit my view of how it should be.
4. I was trying to empower others when I would not empower myself. I mean how empowering is it for me if I do not allow myself to make mistakes, if I constantly beat myself up for being imperfect?
I get it. It is soooooooooooo clear. It was all a pretense – me wanting to empower others. My focus was on how I survive my perpetual doubts over my worthiness; yet I pretended that it was about others. And I have been wondering why empowering others never comes easy to me, no matter how hard I try. I was at war with myself: pretending to be empowering others when I am really only interested in how that makes me feel about myself.
I am such a scrooge. Not only was I totally not generous with myself, I was unable to be generous with the people I claim to want to empower. Instead of giving them space to just be themselves, create space for their greatness to show up, my focus was validating my existence by me providing as many answers as I can in life.
In fact, I now see very clearly that empowerment is all encompassing, not a single dimensional problem solving process.
Generosity is like the front and back of our hands – if I am not generous with myself, I can’t be generous with others. If I can’t live with my mistakes, I cannot tolerate other people making mistakes. If I cannot appreciate my own greatness, I cannot possibly see the greatness in others.
Empowerment is now to me an act of generosity to self and others. Giving myself permission to make a difference to others given all my imperfections. Giving others the space to keep growing and defining their own greatness, in areas of their life that matter to them and are important to them.
Thank you Landmark Education, for giving me a whole new way of living my life, for experiencing myself and humanity. Thank you for empowering and enabling me to live my life with peace and power. I love my life!